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Were there Confederate defenses at Wrightsville Beach in the Civil War?

Ben Steelman

No Confederate encampments or batteries  were placed on Wrightsville Beach itself, according to Chris Fonvielle, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

However, a period map shows a Confederate artillery battery on an island in Wrightsville Sound, Fonvielle said.

In addition to such better known defenses as Fort Fisher and Fort Johnston, Confederates scattered a network of batteries and camps around the Cape Fear coast to prevent a Union landing behind Fort Fisher or a raid on Wilmington.

Fonvielle — the author of “The Wilmington Campaign,” “To Forge a Thunderbolt” and other books about the Civil War in North Carolina — noted that Confederate cavalry often scouted along the beaches to prevent Union raids.

Union sailors from the ships blockading Wilmington would occasionally come ashore to conduct what they called “hen roosting”: raids, he added. Landing parties would gather intelligence from spies and Union sympathizers.  (Maj. Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, commander of the Wilmington district for much of the war, feared that Unionists among the workers at the coastal salt works were collaborating.) They would also loot the occasional hen house and grab other commodities to add variety to routine mess fare.


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